The Effect of Intranasal Oxytocin Administration on Autistic-like Behavior in C58/J Mice
Authors:Mikkal Blick, Rachael Holt
Mentor:Bryce Ryan, Professor of Biology, University of Redlands
Intranasal and intravenous dosing of the neuropeptide oxytocin has been shown to increase emotional recognition, social recognition, and prosocial behavior, as well as decrease restrictive repetitive behaviors in humans with autism. Autistic-like behavior has been modeled in the inbred C58/J mouse line, which demonstrates traits such as low social approach and elevated motor stereotypies. To date, no study has yet investigated the efficacy of intranasally administered oxytocin in mice, nor has any study investigated the effects of oxytocin on the autistic-like behavior seen in C58/J mice. Initial studies performed with the C57BL/6J control strain demonstrated that 3 IUs of oxytocin intranasally administered to stud males resulted in increased grooming, an oxytocin-dependent behavior. Further testing in the three-chambered social approach assay showed that virgin male C58/J mice dosed intranasally with oxytocin displayed decreased social approach compared to those dosed with saline as a vehicle control, in contrast to expected results. Future testing will continue to investigate the effective range of intranasal oxytocin doses in mice as well as the effects of this oxytocin on autistic-like behavior in the C58/J mouse strain.